Monday, August 20, 2007

Singers at the 2007 Catskills Irish Arts Week

I went to the 2007 Catskills Irish Arts Week (CIAW) in East Durham, NY, to expand my knowledge and skills in the area of traditional Irish singing (in English). I had some fantastic exposure to a great many singers, most of whom I had not heard before. If you're interested in Irish traditional singing, I highly recommend all the people mentioned in this post. If you can hear them in person, of course that's preferable. If not, I've tried to find links that would help you learn more about them and order their CDs.

Tommy Sands from Northern Ireland was at the 2007 CIAW for only two days following his appearance at the Smithsonian Folkways Festival in Washington D.C. He's a political folksinger much like Pete Seeger. As a matter of fact, they're friends. He's a very dynamic and compelling performer who sings lots of songs about the everyday effects of dividing Ireland into two countries. I wasn't familiar with his name, but I recognized what may be his most famous song, There Were Roses, which has been recorded by Joan Baez and Mick Moloney and probably others as well.

Julee Glaub and Mark Weems gave a master class on Appalachian singing and its commonalities with traditional Irish singing. They also participated in the many of the evening singing sessions and appeared during the week on the main stage. I was particularly excited to hear Julee sing again. I fell in love with her voice at 2004 CIAW. She performs traditional Irish, blues, and Appalachian styles equally well, and she is also a fantastic backup harmony singer. I have listened to her two solo CDs -- Fields Faraway and Blue Waltz -- many times over the last few years. I'm a little old to be star-struck, but that's as close as I can come to explaining how thrilled I was to meet and talk with her this year.

On the last day of the festival, many of the singers appeared together on stage. Roisin White, whom I discussed at length in my previous post, kicked off the event and introduced the other singers. Then they took turns presenting their songs. Check out this exceptional singing lineup: (double-click on the picture to see a larger version)

Left to right: Roisin White, Tim Dennehy, Catherine Crowe, Kathy Ludlow, Shannon and Matt Heaton (Matt is seated, holding the guitar). Standing between them is Daithi Sproule.

I have no pictures of Robbie O'Connell, Roxanne O'Connell (Robbie's wife), and Pat Egan, but they were all there and I enjoyed hearing each of them as well.

Listening closely to all the singers at the 2007 CIAW was rather like a crash course in the Irish singing tradition. By the end of the week I came away with a much better sense of the broad range of expression and styles that fall within tradition Irish singing. Now that the festival is over, the challenge is to incorporate various aspects of what I heard and try to develop my own authentic voice, to find the songs that move me and sing them in a way that will move others. Stay tuned... I'll let you know how it goes!

© 2007, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

No comments: